Monday, January 17, 2011

Sarah's Key ~ a short film review

Images and films about the Holocaust have always left a marked imprint on my psyche, to such an extent that each time I see one the impact is exponentially greater.
This afternoon I saw Sarah's Key: Elle s'appelait Sarah (Gilles Paquet-Brenner, 2010) the narrative of which addresses an event not widely known, that in 1942 thousands of Jews in Paris were rounded up by French police (under instruction of the SS) into a small stadium in the middle of city and suffered extreme degradation whilst waiting to be deported to Auschwitz. There were no accessible toilets in the velodrome and an aerial shot of Jewish people sitting and lying down next to their own urine and excrement attests to this fact. A heart-wrenching scene in which children are physically severed from their parents loving arms is also a pivotal moment, as is the one in which the secret is revealed.
Yes, we've seen this all before, but what remains powerful about this story is the secret and its terrible truth, which impacts on several generations after the fact.
Sarah Starzynski (MĂ©lusine Mayance), just one of the children who has been held with her parents in the stadium has a dark secret, one that is eventually uncovered in 2002 by an American journalist Julia Jarmond (Kristin Scott Thomas) who has been given the assignment of writing the story of the Vel’d’Hiv (VĂ©lodrome d'Hiver) roundup.
This is a highly emotive film with powerful images and an equally powerful narrative that involves the death of a child and the birth of another, a concealment of Jewish identity and its revelation and eventual embrace.
The key in this film, in both its physical and metaphorical sense represents covert knowledge and its eventual unfolding. But there's another message here about how and why we search for truth and the way that truth impacts on others. Once truth is revealed there are many who might have wanted it kept in darkness.

1 comment:

  1. Bought this book in Ireland. What a wonderful but sad story - never knew France had this 'dirty little secret' the Vel d'Hiv roundup. Historically correct. Written from the perspective of a young girl, Sarah, and a journalist investigating the events. The story is inspiring and heart-wrenching, clearly identiying the impact the events had on Sarah, her family, her adopted family, her children, the journalist and her family. Didn't want to put it down.